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Dental staffing shortage: "Huge" struggle continues

Aug. 31, 2021
Even as patients are returning to their dentists’ offices at early 2020 levels, staffing across the country is a huge challenge. Some 90% of dentists polled said finding hygienists is particularly difficult.

A recent poll shows that even as patients are returning to their dentists’ offices at prepandemic levels, staffing remains a major issue at offices across the country.

A poll taken by the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute (HPI) in August indicated that some 32% of dentist-owners are actively recruiting for dental hygienists, and 39% are looking to fill dental assistant roles.

Other findings from the poll include:

  • Patient volume in private practices was at 89% on average in August, the highest it has been since polling began in March 2020
  • Dentists’ confidence in pandemic recovery declined in August to the lowest it’s been since early 2021, possibly due to concerns related to recent COVID-19 Delta variant updates
  • Among those recruiting, 90% considered recruitment of dental hygienists extremely or very challenging

Dr. David Rice, DentistryIQ’s chief editor, called the issue a "huge" one in the industry and said he thinks the HPI’s findings are “spot on.”

“Like medicine, dentistry studies short, medium, and long-term effects of disease. To date, the most dangerous effect of COVID-19 on the dental profession is the effect it’s had on dental teams,” said Rice. “Uniting, listening and addressing the fears that are keeping dental team members from returning to practice is our number one priority.”

Access HPI: Staffing challenges becoming major issue in dental offices